Women’s Hockey Update: September 20th, 2016
League play gave way to international action on the Russian women’s hockey scene this past week, with both the Under-18 and Senior national squads at work. Read on, for a look at some games that were played last week, and some that are yet to come!
Russia’s U18 women’s team kicked off its 2016-17 season by taking part in the Cup der deutschen Einheit (“German Unification Cup”) in Selb, Germany last week, and coach Yevgeny Bobariko will be happy with what he saw. The Russian youngsters swept all three games, defeating the Czech Republic (1-0), Austria (12-0), and the host Germans (3-1) to capture the tournament title.
As far as individual performances were concerned, Mariya Alexandrova led the way with three goals and two assists, all three of her markers coming against Austria. Alexandrova, who only just turned 16, is a Women’s Hockey League rookie this season with Tornado Moscow Oblast (she has one assist in five games so far). Previously, she played on boys’ teams at the Iskra Hockey School in Odintsovo and at the famed Krylya Sovetov Moscow program.
The Under-18s also got some helpful goaltending, giving up only only score against during the tournament. SK Sverdlovsk Oblast goalie Valeriya Merkusheva shut out the Czech Republic, earning Player of the Game honours in the process. Diana Farkhutdinova of SKIF Nizhny Novgorod played the other two games.
The Under-18s will be back in action, and back in Germany (Füssen, this time), in early October for exhibition games against the Germans and Swiss. At the end of the road is the 2017 U18 Women’s World Championship, which will be held in the Czech Republic this coming January.
Russia’s Senior women’s team, meanwhile, was at the national training centre in Novogorsk preparing to travel to the U.S. for upcoming games against three teams from the National Women’s Hockey League. Those encounters begin later this week, and the full schedule is as follows:
- Sept. 24th vs. Boston Pride
- Sept. 25th vs. New York Riveters
- Sept. 26th vs. New York Riveters
- Sept. 27th vs. Connecticut Whale
- Sept. 29th vs. Connecticut Whale
The final team selection for Russia has been made, and the players flew overseas today (The full roster is here). There is a youthful look to the team, particularly in goal and on defence. Of the three netminders — Valeriya Tarakanova, Mariya Sorokina, and Nadezhda Morozova — 21-year-old Sorokina is the eldest. On defense, SKIF’s Mariya Pechnikova, at 24, is the oldest, and regular veterans Alexandra Kapustina and Anna Shchukina will not be accompanying the team on this trip. Yekaterina Lobova of Biryusa Krasnoyarsk, newly graduated from the Under-18 program, will get her first experience as a Senior team player.
Up front, there are fewer surprises. Both of the players who were in the NWHL last season — forwards Lyudmila Belyakova and Yekaterina Smolentseva — will get a chance to revisit their old haunts. Also in the squad are the two Russian players currently based in Canada: Iya Gavrilova of the Calgary Inferno (CWHL) and Alexandra Vafina of the University of Calgary Dinosaurs. One name that is missing from the roster is that of Biryusa’s Valeriya Pavlova. Pavlova, who was third in the Women’s Hockey League in goals last season and tied for fourth in points, is currently pregnant, and thus taking some time off from hockey. Her Biryusa team-mate Lidiya Malyavko will make her national team debut in Pavlova’s absence.
Next week, we will have a recap of the first four games of the national team’s U.S. tour, and any other news that might crop up in the meantime — thank you for reading!